In Review: Monsters Unleashed! #4

The setup for the final issue hits some slow points among some amazing monster clobbering scenes.

The covers: It’s absolute chaos on the Regular cover by Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado as a tentacled behemoth and giant ape are battling Spider-Man, Elsa Bloodstone, Captain Marvel, and Devil Dinosaur, who has Moon Girl and Kei Kawade riding on his head. The details are amazing and the coloring spectacular. This is what a Marvel cover should look like! The Variant cover by Homare shows a tree-like creature reaching down for some unseen prey. I don’t who monster this is, but it looks cool. Would have liked it better if I had known who it was. The 1950s Monster Variant by Francesco Francavilla is terrific. It has a man entering a blocky structure (Perhaps a temple?) and is taken aback by “The worst menace the world has ever known! Zzutak!” The creature is about to emerge from the door and wreck havoc upon the man and the world. Great imagery and excellent coloring. I hope all of Francavilla’s covers for this series are released as prints because they would look great on any wall. The Monster Cover that wraps around is by interior artist Salvador Larroca and Jesus Aburtov. This features Aegis, a new monster. On previous issues, these new characters have been shown from the front, but Larroca doesn’t do that, instead splitting the creature down the middle with the left being its front and the right being its back. Also on the front are sketches of the monster’s head and arm, while on the back is a three-quarters full view of the creature, along with head and leg details. I’ve loved these covers since the premiere issue and it’s the one I purchased. The Hip-Hop Variant cover is by Kalman Andrasofszky. I don’t what album cover this is based on, but it features Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and Black Panther avoiding the laser blasts from a monster’s eyes. Cool, but I wish I knew what this was based on. The Marvel Future Fight Variant cover is by Jee-Hyung Lee and features Devil Dinosaur armored up, roaring forward with Moon Girl on his head. Excellent imagery and the coloring is also tops. I’m not a fan of these versions of the characters, so I admit to being biased against them. The final cover is the Bill Sienkiewicz Monster vs Marvel Hero Variant. This has the Hulk performing a backdrop suplex wrestling move (Yeah, I had to look that up) on Mangog against the backdrop of a destroyed city. I love me some Sienkiewicz and I love this cover. It’s just primal. Overall grades: Regular A+, Homare Variant B, 1950s Movie Monster Variant A+, Monster Cover A-, Hip-Hop Variant B-, Marvel Future Fight Variant B-, and Monster vs Marvel Hero Variant A

The story: This penultimate issue written by Cullen Bunn is a mixed bag. If there are monsters, it’s great, but if there aren’t any on the page, it’s slow going. The book opens in New York with Spider-Man, Vision, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Nova, Cyclops, and Deadpool trying to hold back the creatures that are trying to take more than a bite out of the Big Apple. The dialogue between the heroes, and a few of the helpful monsters, is great reading. However, the scene then moves to Parker Industries where recently revealed Inhuman Kei Kawade is trying to draw monsters as fast as he can, so that they can spring to life and battle those invading Earth. It was difficult to watch the Inhuman artist try to focus as he’s receiving affirmation from Moon Girl and while Medusa, Karnak, and Elsa Bloodstone are within earshot making commentary on his capabilities. I’ve seen artists working at several conventions and it’s extremely difficult for them to focus on their craft and talk, so I was waiting for Kei to scream at the others to shut up and let him work. I mean, it is the fate of the world, right? The solution that’s proposed by one hero to how to avoid the destruction (Page 17) is ridiculous. If this is the only possible solution from the “new” version of this character, I’m glad I don’t follow his monthly title; what a defeatist. The book ends with the final monster’s arrival, which shouldn’t be a surprise if one read the previous installment. This was okay reading, but really dragged in the non-monster scenes. Overall grade: C-

The art: I’m a huge fan of Salvador Larroca from his work on Darth Vader, so I was looking forward to seeing his interpretation of the classic characters on this book and he’s done an excellent job. The double-paged splash of Pages 2 and 3 propels the reader into the battle as heroes and monsters clash. Larroca has got an excellent sense of perspective and he meshes the characters on these two pages fabulously. The two pages that follow contain six panels that show where each hero is and which creature he or she is battling. I love that he’s drawn them from so many perspectives, with none really showing a truly clear image of the hero, reinforcing that the reader is witnessing a battle that is in flux. The story doesn’t give too much for the characters at Parker Industries to do but stand around, and Wolverine nicely sums up how she feels about doing so on Page 11. I’m buying this series because I want to see monsters in action, and I’m getting some incredible images of them, with my favorite being on 14 — that thing looks awesome! There’s also a really nice partial double-page spread on 22 and 23, with Spider-Man doing what he does best. Devil Dinosaur also has an excellent two panel sequence showing what he brings to a fight. The final page reveals the arrival of the ultimate monster and it looks like something out of a lost Toho Studios film. I loved it, and I loved Larroca’s work on this issue. Overall grade: A

The colors: With such a tremendous variety of characters and settings, I expect there to be an equally tremendous variety of colors in this issue. Color artist David Curiel does not disappoint. Super heroes have brightly colored clothes to stand out in the chaos and carnage and the creatures they are fighting are equally impressive in their color schemes. Using a sickly green for the eyeball on the first page makes the unseen monster disturbing. Pages 2 and 3 are an explosion of colors that match the explosive smack down occurring on those pages. It’s impressive that with all the details that Larroca has in his artwork that Curiel never falters and has a panel become a blob of colors; instead, everything is crisp and clear, allowing a reader to easily follow the action. Pages 6 and 7 show some computer screens that have neatly dimmed colors to show the reader that they are just projections. Sounds also receive excellent coloring, making them project off the page. Curiel is an outstanding contributor to this issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Monstrous narration, scene settings and character identification (the same font), dialogue, Fin Fang Foom’s unique speech, sounds, and monster wails are created by VC’s Travis Lanham. I would have liked to have seen a wider variety of fonts used for the monsters’ speech and wails, given that they’re different species and should visually sound different, but what’s done looks fine. Overall grade: B+

The final line: The setup for the final issue hits some slow points among some amazing monster clobbering scenes. Enjoyable, but not the strongest issue of the series. Overall grade: B+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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